The Gateway Hypothesis describes how tobacco or alcohol use precedes marijuana and other illicit drug use. We review the epidemiological data, explore the underlying molecular mechanisms in mice and discuss the societal implications of the hypothesis, including the use of e-cigarettes by young people.
Conclusion: Our mouse model identifies biological processes underlying the hypothesis, showing that nicotine is a gateway drug that exerts a priming effect on cocaine through increased global acetylation in the striatum.
Keywords: Cocaine; E-cigarettes; Gateway Hypothesis; Histone acetylation; Nicotine.
©2014 Foundation Acta Paediatrica. Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.